News / Africa

US First Lady Calls Africa's Youth to Action

The U.S. First Lady, Michelle Obama, chose Soweto's historic Regina Mundi church to inspire Africa's youths.
The U.S. First Lady, Michelle Obama, chose Soweto's historic Regina Mundi church to inspire Africa's youths.

Multimedia

Nico Colombant

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama has delivered a motivational speech to Africa's youth, and in particular to the continent's young women, calling them to action for a better future.

Following a boisterous choir and introductory remarks by South African women leaders, an emotional Michelle Obama, the first African-American first lady in U.S. history, spoke before a packed Regina Mundi church, directly addressing young women.

"You can be the generation that makes the discoveries and builds the industries that will transform our economies," the first lady said.  "You can be the generation that brings opportunity and prosperity to forgotten corners of the world and banishes hunger from this continent forever.  You can be the generation that ends HIV/AIDS in our time, the generation that fights not just the disease, but the stigma of the disease."

Links to view or listen to Michelle Obama's speech

The wife of U.S. president Barack Obama, 47, said Africa's youth must help ensure women are no longer treated as second-class citizens, and that they stand up to violence against women in any form and any place.

The speech was part of a U.S.-sponsored forum for young African women leaders.  
Mrs. Obama said in recent history the anti-apartheid struggle against white minority rule in South Africa and the civil rights movement in the United States had inspired each other, and that the same could be said on a personal level between herself and young African women of today.

The last words of Michelle Obama's speech picked up on her husband's winning 2008 electoral slogan.
The last words of Michelle Obama's speech picked up on her husband's winning 2008 electoral slogan.

The church was a haven during the anti-apartheid struggle, and guests said they believed it was now the place of the most important speech in Mrs. Obama's life.  The first lady ended her comments with a familiar refrain from her husband's victorious 2008 electoral campaign.

"If anyone ever tells you that you should not or you can not then I want you to say with one voice, the voice of a generation,  you tell them, 'Yes, we can!'  What do you say?  'Yes we can!'  What do you say?  'Yes we can!'  Thank you all so much," Obama said.

One of the forum participants, South African radio personality Anele Mdoda, said Michelle Obama's call was loud and clear.

"The fact that she is here, and she is looking at us in the face and she is saying it to us, I think that, and I know that, it is a kick-start for better things for us," Mdoda said.

Groups of high school students were also present. Seventeen-year-old Mashudu Nephawe was one of 20 teenagers attending from the Moletsane high school in Soweto.

"Women like Michelle Obama succeeded in life because they have discipline.  And she thinks out of the box, she thinks for other people," Nephawe noted. "If we can have more women to lead the world I believe the world would be great, it would be more than a better place."

Obama is making the Africa trip with her mother and two daughters, but without her husband.

She met Tuesday with anti-apartheid icon and former South African president Nelson Mandela, and continues her South Africa trip Thursday in the southwestern city of Cape Town and at Robben Island, where Mandela was jailed for 18 years.

Her southern Africa tour focused on youth empowerment and good governance will also take her to Botswana.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs